Take Charge

How Long Do You Have to Smoke to Get Lung Cancer?

April 22, 2020

Secondhand Smoke

Smoking is the number one cause of lung cancer. Your risk increases with the number of cigarettes you smoke each day and the number of years you smoke. Also, if you started smoking at a young age, you will be at higher risk later in life. In general, lung cancer rates begin increasing around age 40 and peak after age 70.

With all of that said, there is no such thing as a safe amount of smoking or a “safer” cigarette. For instance, some people might think that low-tar or filtered cigarettes are safer than conventional cigarettes. In reality, though, most people simply end up smoking more or inhaling more deeply to satisfy their need for nicotine.

You don’t have to smoke at all to get lung cancer

While smoking is the primary cause of lung cancer, it is not the only cause. Studies show that approximately 15 to 20 of every 100 lung cancer patients have never smoked. Some nonsmokers develop lung cancer due to exposure to secondhand smoke, while others develop it for unknown reasons.

Smoking poses many other health risks

While smoking is most famously associated with lung cancer, it can also cause cancers of the mouth, throat, sinuses, esophagus, stomach, kidneys, pancreas, bladder, uterus and cervix, as well as some types of leukemia. Smoking also directly causes chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases (COPD), such as bronchitis and emphysema, and worsens asthma. Additionally, it is heavily linked to high blood pressure, ulcers, osteoporosis, diabetes and reproductive disorders such as infertility, miscarriage and premature menopause.

If you are ready to quit smoking, good for you! Moffitt Cancer Center can help you take this important first step in improving your health and wellness. You can request an appointment with a smoking cessation specialist in our tobacco treatment program by calling 1-888-663-3488 or completing our new patient registration form online.